A Social History of Egg Collecting

A Social History of Egg Collecting is part of The Artangel Collection.  It was initially presented at the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne in spring of 2018, before being exhibited at the Leeds Art Gallery and Inverleith House in Edinburgh.

  • Artist: Andy Holden
  • Title: A Social History of Egg Collecting
  • Date: 2017
  • Medium: Digital print
  • Dimensions: 2000 x 1200mm

The history of egg-collecting: beginning with Victorian aristocrats hell-bent on cataloguing nature, through to the 21st century’s outlaw nest robbers, it’s a narrative peppered with police chases, undercover detectives and secret societies. Egg collectors aren’t presented as monsters immune to the threat of avian extinction though. Rather they are self-styled experts, often clinging to the values of a past era.  Today’s criminal egg collectors are welders and decorators, living isolated existences with pictures of those original “gentlemen scientists pinned to their walls”. – Skye Sherwin, The Guardian, 11 September 2017

'A Social History of Egg Collecting' is a digital print featuring 14 collages documenting the evolution of the egg collecting in Britain from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth-first century. Each collage combines birds, their eggs and portraits of prominent egg collectors. These collages also illustrate the publication that accompanied the exhibition.

Image: Andy Holden, A Social History of Egg Collecting, 2017 at Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Gardens, 2018. Photograph: Michael Wolchover


at Leeds Art Gallery

08 June - 02 September 2018

'A Social History of Egg Collecting' was exhibited at Leeds Art Gallery the second venue of the UK tour of Natural Selection, a collaborative installation by Andy Holden and Peter Holden. The work was presented alongside the sculptural installation 'How the Artist Was Led to the Study of Nature'.

Image: Andy Holden, A Social History of Egg Collecting, 2017 at Leeds Art Gallery in 2018. Photograph: Simon Warner

Past Presentations

Since the launch of The Artangel Collection, A Social History of Egg Collecting has been installed at